complaints, condescending twatbags, Germany, healthcare, language, politics, psychology, social media, social welfare

Am I really that “funny” to some people?

Lately, I’ve been feeling kind of puzzled about how I seem to come across to people. I know that sometimes people find me funny. Sometimes, they even find me funny at appropriate times, like when I make an obviously humorous comment. But then, sometimes I find puzzling laughter reactions to things that aren’t meant to be funny.

For instance, yesterday, I shared an old photo of Bill and me at a beer spa. We were in a tub shaped like a keg with a beer spigot next to it. I suppose that could be kind of funny… but it was actually more awesome than humorous. Several people laughed at it. When I asked what was funny, no one responded. I wasn’t necessarily offended by the laugh reactions to that photo. I was just confused by them. I don’t see what’s funny about a couple sitting in a beer spa keg, especially since we weren’t naked.

I did get some laugh reactions at another post, though, that I did find kind of obnoxious. I have ranted a few times on this blog about how certain people in the United States like to tell me how life is in Germany. It’s usually conservatives who do this. They have this idea that Germany is a dystopian communist hellhole, where people are paying taxes out the ass, living in tiny boxes, can’t get medical care, and are subjected to death panels by Muslim terrorists. And yet, my guess is that most of them have never so much as ever left the United States. Or, if they did, they didn’t stay away long enough to understand that life can be good outside of the United States.

The mocking, derisive effect of the laughing emoji is annoying enough when it comes from strangers. It’s actually kind of hurtful when it comes from “friends”. Below is something I wrote in September 2019, after having a very frustrating discussion with a friend of a friend, who was convinced that no one in Germany feels safe, because people don’t walk around with guns here. She stated that she knew Muslims were taking over Germany, and that life here is a nightmare. And she was saying this from Dallas, Texas!

Twice this week, Trump supporters in the USA have tried to tell me how things are in Germany. I have heard how unsafe I am, how I can’t get medical care, how Muslims run everything, crime is rampant, and no one is allowed to have weapons. Do I really look like I have no ability to draw my own conclusions about what life is like over here? Folks, Germany is a nice place to be. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s pretty good, despite those pesky “socialist” policies that make healthcare and higher education affordable and guns more difficult to obtain.

I swear, I must come off as just plain dumb to some people. I don’t get it.

I shared this again, because it still happens regularly. I was completely serious when I wrote it, and when I shared it as a memory. Yet some friends “laughed” at me for this. People who don’t know me presume to tell me how bad it is where I live. What’s especially strange is when they assume I’m not American, and lecture me about life in rural America. It’s inconceivable to some US citizens that anyone can be happy beyond the shores of the United States. Especially a fellow citizen! It’s like– how in the world can one stand to be away from the most fabulous country in the world?

Uh… yeah. A country where people are still screaming about an election that happened two years ago, in which a delusional and obvious narcissist LOST… and on his way out of the White House, which he had threatened to refuse to leave, he STOLE highly classified documents and took them home! A country where children have to learn how to behave in case some unhinged young man with a gun comes in and opens fire on them. A country where more and more states are denying physicians the right to practice their profession without speaking to a lawyer first… and women are being denied the right to choose whether or not they want to be pregnant. A country where we speak of freedom and the right to pursue happiness, while in practice, people who aren’t conventional are pushed to the peripheries– their rights and personal safety threatened regularly. A country where a hell of a lot of people think anyone who has their well being in mind should be sent to prison. A country where a large segment of the population are incarcerated and treated inhumanely!

I could go on… but I think you get the point. It’s not that I don’t love my country. I do. I am proud to be American. But it’s really not the most awesome place there is. There are other countries where life is very good, and even preferable, to some people– Americans included. Personally, I like the lifestyle in Europe much more than I do the US lifestyle. I like the fact that people here don’t obsess so much over work. People take vacations, spend time with their families, enjoy hobbies and clubs, and engage with their communities. New parents can take paid time off to take care of their babies, rather than handing them off to a childcare facility after six weeks. And yes, it’s a huge plus that there’s a lot less violence here.

I’m not saying life here is perfect. It’s not. There are global issues that affect life here as much as they do in the United States. Sometimes I really miss my friends and family back home. I miss being able to do things easily, simply because I can easily speak and read the language. I miss certain foods, and having things like a big kitchen, closets, and the ability to buy a king sized American mattress with ease. I miss being able to go to the beach without spending ages in the car. But, by and large, it’s been nice to live in Europe. I like it here. I think this experience has forever changed me, too.

A few years ago, Bill and I attended a Christmas market in our village, and we met a German lady with an adorable little shih tzu dog, who was wearing a t-shirt that read “Security”. The lady spoke excellent English, and explained to us that she had lived in Tennessee for years, having worked for the drinks company, Seagrams. When we told her about how we’d been in Germany for years, she smiled with recognition and said, “Well, you’ll never be the same again. When you go back to the US, you’ll be too European.”

She’s right, of course. Every time I live abroad, I’m irrevocably changed. This latest stint has been the most life altering. Sometimes, I wonder if I can stand the idea of moving back to the US. Other times, I think that of course I can. That’s my home. But living over here has opened my eyes to its many shortcomings. Why is that funny to some people?

I think social media has really made people more thoughtless and callous, anyway. I started my morning today by blocking a young lady named “Ashlie” who left a rude response to a comment I had left about Dr. Fauci, who had just announced his retirement. I expressed support for Dr. Fauci, because I think he’s done some incredible work for humanity. His job has truly been thankless, because there are so many people in the world– especially in the United States– who think that COVID is a hoax, and vaccines are useless. I just want to ask those people– where the hell do you think all those people who died went? Are they all in Roswell, New Mexico with all the people who disappeared on 9/11? COVID is very real, and it’s killed millions of people. The vaccines have been life savers.

I had COVID myself over the summer. It was like a bad cold. Maybe it would have still been like that if I hadn’t been vaccinated, given that it wasn’t the original variant that got me. Or maybe I would have had to be hospitalized and would have been left extremely debilitated or even dead. I have a few of the risk factors for severe COVID. I’m still not a big fan of face masks, but I cooperate with the rules. I trust people who went to medical school and work in public health.

But this young woman wrote “straight to prison where you belong.” to my well wishes about the octogenarian, Dr. Fauci, who is finally going to retire. I assume she means Fauci should be imprisoned, but the fact that she presumably accidentally wrote that I should go to prison was enough for me to block her. Lately, my block list has been growing by leaps and bounds… and in a way, it makes me sad. People can’t all be this awful, can they? And yet, they are… even though Facebook keeps disciplining me with bots, claiming that I’m a poor citizen of the ‘Net.

I wonder if the young woman who left that comment wanted me to block her. Maybe she doesn’t care. If she doesn’t care, why should I?

Ehh… I know some people would miss me if I quit social media, and I would miss them. But, I have to admit, I do think about doing it every day, because I’m tired of interacting with people who don’t think. I suppose I could have asked “Ashlie” what the hell is wrong with her. I could have addressed her, stating that I haven’t done anything that warrants going to prison, and neither has Dr. Fauci. I admire Dr. Fauci for the lifesaving work he’s done, in spite of massive hostility and stupidity directed toward him. And I could have made a firm statement that COVID vaccines have saved lives worldwide… and Dr. Fauci is just one of many competent healthcare professionals worldwide who have touted them.

I live in Germany, and COVID vaccines have been heavily promoted here. Dr. Fauci doesn’t work in Germany. Should I adopt the belief that Germany’s healthcare minister, Karl Lauterbach, who is a physician and has a Ph.D. in public health from Harvard University, should go to prison for the work he does? I don’t like all of Lauterbach’s opinions or policies, but he has a tremendous responsibility. His job is necessary. My guess is that he’s lost a lot of sleep over the past couple of years. Yes, he’s in a position of power, and some of his policies have been highly annoying and tedious. But again– he has a tremendous responsibility and is in a position of huge trust. Same as Dr. Fauci. Saying that either of these men should go to prison, simply because of their unpopular policies, is ludicrous, disrespectful, and frankly, very stupid.

I could have told Ashlie all of that, but in the end, I just decided to remove her from my sphere, because I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with such idiocy. It just seems like here in Europe, there are fewer people like Ashlie to deal with. They do exist, but they’re in much smaller numbers. Or… maybe it just seems that way, because I don’t speak German very well. Anyway, I like it better. No need to laugh at me for that. At least my opinions are based on real experience instead of conjecture.

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condescending twatbags, ethics, Ex, modern problems, rants, social media, social welfare

I got your “cog dis” right here, lady…

Warning… this rant probably makes me seem like a complete bitch. I don’t care.

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans. July 4th isn’t a holiday in Germany, but Bill gets the day off, because he works for an American company. So he’s got big plans to cook ribs on the grill, and as I write this, he’s putting the sheets on the bed that I washed after we got up this morning. We have beautiful weather again today, so it would be fun to go do something, but I think the dogs would be pissed off if we ventured out again. Besides, it’s Monday, and a lot of restaurants and shops have their Ruhetag on Mondays. After I’m done writing this post, I’ll probably practice guitar and then try to read more of my latest book, which is about Roe v. Wade. When I started reading it, the ruling hadn’t yet been overturned. It’s surreal to read about how the law came about now… and the story behind Norma McCorvey, who was “Jane Roe” in the famous 1973 lawsuit that led to American women having the right to get abortions.

I don’t really want to write about abortion again. I’m tired of writing about it, arguing about it, and reading the really disgusting, misogynistic, disrespectful comments from “pro-birthers”. And yet, I feel kind of compelled, since we’re all kind of saturated in this mess right now. It’s Independence Day, but I know a lot of women don’t feel very “free” anymore. Last night, as I was reading more comments on Twitter, I was reminded of a post I wrote in 2019 about a truly creepy Trump appointee who pushed his pro-life views on migrant women and refugees. In that post, I asked if we were now living in 1970s era Romania.

I’m sure a lot of people don’t know what I’m referring to when I mention 1970s Romania. Younger people who weren’t around when the Eastern Bloc was still communist, and the Soviet Union still existed, might not have heard of Romania’s Decree 770. From 1967 until 1989, women in Romania were basically forced to give birth for the state. Women were strictly tracked by gynecologists on a monthly basis. Those who were 40-45 (depending on the year) were expected to have four or five children. Contraception and abortion were outlawed for the vast majority of women. And a WHOLE lot of babies ended up in orphanages, not because they were actual orphans, but because their parents couldn’t afford to take care of them.

Many of the unlucky children who landed in orphanages became institutionalized. They weren’t held enough, did not receive love, and that affected their mental and emotional health. A lot of those babies were also in poor physical health; they received blood transfusions, some of which were tainted with HIV or delivered with used needles. Consequently, a lot of Romanian children in orphanages contracted AIDS.

I’m not saying that this is what will happen in the United States. Obviously, we know a lot more about HIV and AIDS now than we did in the 1980s. There are also a lot more drugs available to treat AIDS and HIV infections. But I do think that a lot of issues mentioned in this article from New Europe will come to pass. Romanian families were severely impacted with the pressure to birth. A lot of women were reluctant to have sex with their husbands, which resulted in family strife, abuse, abandonment, and general unhappiness.

People who are cheering about this loss of rights for women most likely haven’t thought very long and hard about how we will all be affected by forcing women to have babies they don’t want, can’t afford, and aren’t ready to parent. Oh, but there’s always adoption, right? Right… except there are already about 400,000 kids in foster care, waiting to be adopted. People are eager to adopt healthy infants. They aren’t so interested in the older kids who languish in the system until they age out and find themselves on their own, often without a lot of life skills other than street smarts.

I imagine that adoption could become big business again, with lawyers and private agencies brokering babies, just as they did in older times, when women didn’t have the right to choose. Maybe those adoptions will turn out okay for some kids… or maybe they’ll be tragic, as some people find out they aren’t equipped to raise another person’s child.

Once again, I give you Ex’s example. She went on a public Twitter tear last night, as Mark Hamill did what a lot of celebrities are doing right now. He tweeted a picture of a cartoon couple with the caption, “We will adopt your baby.”

Har de har har har…

Someone angrily tweeted back to Mark Hamill that she was an adoptive mother and she was offended that people were attacking adoptive parents with this trend of derisively sharing photos of couples offering to adopt.

Ugh… I hate it when people call other people “hon”. It’s so condescending!

Several people pointed out to this person that people weren’t attacking adoptive couples, they were attacking virtue signaling “anti-choice” people who want to force women to birth, and then actually WON’T adopt a child.

Glad you ended up with a child who is healthy and happy… and I hope you DO honor your son’s bio parents– especially his bio mom. It was her body that took a beating so you could be a parent.

Ex follows Mark Hamill, and she was adopted, so naturally, she chimed in. I couldn’t believe some of the bullshit she was peddling. I mean, it sounded “good”, but I know about a lot of what goes on behind the Twitter account. For twenty years, I’ve been sitting here watching and experiencing the “aftereffects of Ex”. And well, I gotta say, there’s clearly a lot of “cog dis” going on.

It’s no secret that I despise my husband’s ex wife for many very valid reasons. However, I also recognize that she did legitimately suffer horrific abuse when she was a child. She did NOT land in an adoptive family where she was loved, cherished, and taken care of as all children should be. The end result is that she visits her hellish childhood on anyone close to her, and engages in some pretty serious “cog dis”. Her tweets sound good in theory, but the reality of how she actually behaves is something entirely different, which is easy to verify, if you know where to look.

I give you Ex’s tweets on this subject. Her comments are italicized, while bolded comments are from other users, and my comments are in parentheses.

I’ll admit… I would never, for any reason have an abortion personally. But I would never choose for anyone else what they should do either. It’s that whole being an American and being a Christian thing… judging others or commanding others doesn’t sit well with me. (she wouldn’t, because she’s 55 years old now, and her sweet bird of youth has flown… and also, children make excellent weapons against her ex husbands and their families… Truthfully, though, I would not be surprised if Ex would NEVER abort, even if it might save her life to do so. She likes attention.)

You’re doing what we all should do if we can… changing the life of one child at a time. I’ll tell you; I could never ever have an abortion. Not for anything in the world. I just refuse to believe that I have the right to tell anyone else what to do. (except she doesn’t mind telling her husbands and children what to do– and anyone else with a connection to her children, even if doing what she wants them to do is unhealthy, unwise, or financially disastrous… Woe be unto anyone who defies her, too. She will retaliate in twisted and horrible ways.)

Well, I could add that by continuing to have a poor class of people, the 1% could maintain power over the country easily. (I don’t disagree with her here, although she doesn’t do much to prevent poverty in her own home.)

Mark, adoption is a wonderful option. My own father was adopted when he was a skinny, sickly, weak infant (about 1939-1940). My grandfather’s first wife went to adopt and she said, “Show me the baby who is in the most need of care.” That baby grew up and at age 30, became my dad.

This is a wonderful story!!! So happy for you and your father. If only everyone who wanted a child felt this way we would not have 400k children in foster are. I was adopted, also. I’m grateful for my life, but it has been so very hard to know I was an accidental bastard child. (Ex was responding to the tweet I bolded. I find it interesting that she refers to herself as an “accidental bastard child”, when she’s also referred to herself as a descendent of a famous Scottish clan. I don’t know if her ties to the famous Scottish clan are through her careless bio parents who had an affair, or her terrible adoptive parents, who severely abused and neglected her when she was a child. I was an “accident child”, too, but my parents were married. I was also abused, though not as badly as Ex was.)

I know abortion debate rages. I was adopted… living hell… sexually assaulted for 7 years by my STEP father (mom married 7 times). I am glad I wasn’t aborted, but, all these “I will adopt your baby.” folks make me angry. They want only perfect babies; that isn’t always possible! (If she had been aborted, it would have spared a whole lot of people significant pain and grief… But, in fairness, Bill is enjoying getting to know younger daughter again, after being denied her company for 15 years. Too bad she wasn’t my daughter, so she could know her father better.)

It is so sad you posted this. You have 3 kids and worth $20M. Do you even understand a) how hard it is and b) how much it costs to adopt a kid? My wife and I looked into it and it is impossible. So many great people out there that can’t have kids that would be great parents.

There are countless children waiting… desperately in need of good parents, their lives being wasted in the foster care system! These couples who will adopt only babies are selfish and not the kind of people who should be parents. Being a parent requires unconditional love! (again, a response to someone else… and unconditional love is not something she has shown to her children. We know this because Bill witnessed it, and others have told us about the lengths she went to as she tried to maintain control of her offspring. One time, she reportedly attempted suicide as a way of keeping younger daughter under her thumb. But, in fairness, I doubt the vast majority of people are truly capable of “unconditional love”, even regarding their own kids.)

Children in the foster care system need good parents more than anyone. They desperately need to be loved and properly cared for. (true… and I’m glad it doesn’t appear that she’s trying to adopt a foster kid.)

People only want to adopt newborns. Countless children grow up parentless in the foster care system. (and some end up in hellish foster homes with “parents” who are only interested in money, and exploit the children for their own use and gratification… sounds like someone else we know.)

Exactly! 500k children who need a loving caring forever home but people will not adopt them because they are not perfect little baby packages of joy. EVERY CHILD deserves to be loved, no matter what! When we have no children in foster care I will believe “we will adopt” signs. (true enough, I guess… but I don’t know that she should be speaking about this, given her track record of parental alienation and irresponsible behavior.)

Not to mention the fact that Pro-life folks want to BAN CONTRACEPTIVES. How irresponsible is that? (does she have much experience with using contraception? Other than pressuring her husbands to get snipped for her?)

What a totally false and reprehensible thing to say. I was the victim of sexual assault by my step father for 7 years. My mother knew; I told her. She did nothing. What would you have said to me as a 9 year old child if I had become pregnant? That I was irresponsible? (again, true enough… and I’m so sorry that happened to her, because that abusive treatment contributed to turning her into the person she is now.)

I know it seems like I’m being super hard on Ex. Like I said, I know she has suffered greatly in her life. She’s not the only one, though, and plenty of people have been abused and not turned into parental alienators, liars, and exploiters. She puts on a perfectly reasonable public facade on Twitter, but behind closed doors, it’s a totally different story. And if you watch what she does, you can see that she’s quite full of shit… and cognitive dissonance.

My perfectly lovely and kind husband was denied the right to be a father to his daughters, and his ex stepson, whom he basically raised, because his ex wife is so damaged by her crappy childhood… a childhood she spent with adoptive parents who were, in no way, equipped to be good parents. Her pain has caused a lot of ripple effects to innocent people, including yours truly. I never got to know my stepdaughters because of her selfishness, nor was I able to have my own children, due to her greediness and irresponsible, impulsive behavior.

Personally, I think that sometimes, abortion is the most humane and responsible choice there is. It would have been a blessing to many people to have access to it prior to 1973. Not having access to it beyond 2022 is going to cause many, many problems… problems that I don’t think the pro-birth set have considered. I do hope that some people who agree with outlawing abortion will take up my challenge and read about Romania’s Decree 770. It might be an eye opener, that could serve to cut through some of that “cog dis” that is clouding so many people’s judgment right now.

And, just to end this post on an outrageous note, I just spotted this totally disgusting tweet by a man who thinks a ten year old child can consent to having sex…

I didn’t think it was possible, but Twitter is even more horrible than Facebook is…

Immediately following the creep’s tweet was this moronic comment from a woman in North Carolina. I probably shouldn’t follow “Bad Medical Takes”, because there are some pretty infuriating retweets there. I can’t believe how delusional some people are… Cog dis abounds!!!

I doubt this idiot is a doctor, but my mom was 10 when she started having periods. Bill’s mom was 9. It totally is possible for 10 year olds to conceive. It’s called “precocious puberty“, and these days, more girls are experiencing it than ever before.
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complaints, healthcare, law, money, politicians, politics, religion, social media, social welfare

Something I hadn’t thought about here on the “Road to Hell”…

I meant to write about today’s topic yesterday. It was inspired by a New York Times opinion piece I read the other day that pointed out some unintended consequences of our new post Roe v. Wade reality. But I got mired in a contentious Twitter conversation that led me astray and got me so pissed off that I donated money to the pro choice cause. Yesterday, I decided to write about that decision, instead of the new insight I gleaned from that very wise opinion piece, written by Tressie McMillam Cottom, a Black woman who is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, the author of “Thick: And Other Essays” and a 2020 MacArthur fellow. The piece she wrote, titled “Citizens No More”, really drove home some of the ways life for women in the United States could change if we don’t nip this anti-abortion nonsense in the bud.

For a long time, I have been writing about the potential negative health consequences that could arise in the wake of making abortion illegal. What I hadn’t considered, though, is that criminalizing abortion will likely also affect women in the workplace. Tressie McMillam Cottom spelled it all out in her opinion piece. She writes:

I grew up choosing where and how I work because Roe v. Wade gave me many of the same basic rights of personhood as men, for example. Millions of women have, to different degrees, been able to do the same.

I agree. It was the same for me, my entire life. I was born months before abortion became available to all women in the United States. My whole existence, I’ve known that if I ever needed or wanted to have an abortion, I could get one. In fact, I grew up in southeastern Virginia, and I distinctly remember that Hillcrest Clinic, an abortion clinic that opened in Norfolk, Virginia the year after I was born, used to run radio ads on the station I listened to before school every day. I remember hearing the commercials about how a woman could access safe, compassionate care if she wanted to terminate a pregnancy. It was not a big deal to me, because I heard those ads all the time. I never thought twice about them.

Here’s a news clip about the Hillcrest Clinic, an abortion clinic that used to operate in Virginia when I was a young woman.

Then came the 1990s, and I remember reading in the news that abortion clinics were being bombed and doctors who performed abortions were being targeted, harassed, and in at least a couple of instances, murdered. Dr. Barnett Slepian was one abortion provider who was executed in 1998 by a gun toting anti abortion zealot. Another was Kansas physician Dr. George Tiller, who was shot in both arms years before he was finally murdered in 2009. On December 31, 1994, 22 year old John Salvi came into Hillcrest Clinic and opened fire, shattering the doors, but not injuring or killing anyone. The day prior, Salvi had stormed into two abortion clinics in Massachusetts and opened fire, killing two receptionists and wounding multiple clinic employees and volunteers. In many of the violent cases involving abortion providers being assassinated, pro-life zealots justified the killings, claiming they were “saving the unborn babies”. It seems ridiculous to me that highly trained physicians who simply wanted to help women were killed by people claiming to be “pro-life”. But life in the United States is often kind of confusing and odd, isn’t it?

I was a young woman in the 90s. Fortunately, I was not sexually active at the time, and I never had any gynecological issues, so I never needed to consider taking birth control, let alone having an abortion. But I knew that if I ever did need abortion services, and I was still living in Virginia, I could go to the Hillcrest Clinic in Norfolk.

The years went on, and lawmakers did more and more to restrict abortion access and discourage women from ending their pregnancies. They passed new laws, forcing clinics to upgrade their facilities to the point at which they were almost like hospitals. Hillcrest Clinic finally got to a point at which they could no longer operate. Ironically, it was because fewer women needed or wanted to have abortions, probably because they were getting educated about sex and had access to effective contraception. Hillcrest Clinic closed its doors in 2012, after serving the community for about 40 years.

Along came 2002. I finished graduate school and got married. Getting pregnant at a bad time was never an issue for me. But the same could not be said for my peers. I do know some women who did seek abortion care, and none of them has regretted their decision. I know they are living productive lives now, with families they formed when they were ready to be parents.

Now, with this new reality of conservatives trying desperately to force women to give birth, those choices are in jeopardy, even for women who never get pregnant. Tressie McMillam Cottom explains:

With Roe v. Wade toppled, we do not have the same rights in all labor markets. In a global market, an empowered worker is one who can migrate. With Dobbs, women cannot assume that we can safely work in Idaho the same way that we can in Oregon or Washington. I cannot negotiate wages or time off with an employer with the same risk profile as those who cannot become pregnant. An employer who offers lower pay in a state with abortion care indirectly benefits from women’s inability to take our labor on the open market across the nation. Thanks to a rogue court, women’s lives are now more determined by the accidents of our birth than they were a week ago.

Those accidents of birth include circumscribing women’s lives by making them dependent upon corporate beneficence. Some companies, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, immediately issued statements that they would offer reimbursements to employees for traveling for abortion services. The largess of Dick’s and other companies is noteworthy. But it requires women to disclose their health status to a boss they have to hope is well meaning. That says nothing of also hoping that corporate management or leadership does not change. Well-meaning employers can come and go. They also vary in how well meaning they are in terms of pledges of their employee support.

Those two paragraphs made me stop in my tracks. All along, I’d been focusing on health and happiness. It never occurred to me to consider how not being able to access abortion could affect women in the workplace, even in states where abortion access is guaranteed (for now). I also hadn’t considered that the companies who offer women help in getting abortions would also be requiring those women to discuss their private healthcare decisions with their employers. And, as the article also points out, some companies, such as Starbucks, have placed conditions on their offers of assistance. From the article:

 [Starbucks noted that] it cannot guarantee that benefit to workers in unionized stores. Union drives at Starbucks have increased worker power. Many of those workers are women and people who can become pregnant. Potentially attaching support for abortion care to non-unionized labor is a perfect example of why corporations should not be arbiters of human rights.

So basically, people who can get pregnant will have to decide what’s more important to them– access to abortion services, or worker’s rights.

I noticed in the comment section that most people were arguing about the morality of abortions. It seemed that very few had bothered to read Tressie McMillam Cottom’s opinion piece, which I thought was very sobering and kind of scary. I decided to leave a comment that people really should read her piece. If you click the link in this post, you should have free access to the link, as I am a New York Times subscriber and allowed to gift ten articles per month. If you are a person of childbearing age and can get pregnant, you might want to consider what is at stake. It will affect all women who work, unless it’s obvious that you’re beyond childbearing. Then, you’ll just experience age discrimination. 😉

I want to also bring up another alarming news article I read yesterday that complements Tressie McMillam Cottom’s piece. According to the Washington Post, some Republican lawmakers are trying to draft legislation that could block pregnant people from crossing state lines. Again, I’m gifting the link to this article, since I am also a Washington Post subscriber. From the article:

The National Association of Christian Lawmakers, an anti abortion organization led by Republican state legislators, has begun working with the authors of the Texas abortion ban to explore model legislation that would restrict people from crossing state lines for abortions, said Texas state representative Tom Oliverson (R), the charter chair of the group’s national legislative council.

“Just because you jump across a state line doesn’t mean your home state doesn’t have jurisdiction,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for the Thomas More Society. “It’s not a free abortion card when you drive across the state line.” (Figures it’s a MAN who said this. I hope he goes straight to Hell.)

I read about this development yesterday, after having yet another fruitless discussion with two older pro-life people on Twitter– a man and a woman, both of whom were conservative, and both of whom clearly never really stopped and thought about what eliminating abortion will mean to women, and American society as a whole. The first person who took me on was an obviously conservative man, who basically said that people who get pregnant by accident should be forced to gestate. He was kind enough to allow abortion for rape and incest cases. For everyone else it was, “she made her bed and now she needs to lie in it.”

I noted that he seemed to think pregnancy should be a punishment. He disagreed, arguing that birth control can prevent pregnancies, and “personal responsibility” should trump a gestating person’s right to make healthcare decisions about their own body. I tweeted to him that I didn’t think he’d really thought very long or hard about the abortion issue at all. I could have come up with a laundry list of my concerns, to include healthcare privacy and the fact that women in many states will have to prove their need for certain obstetrical procedures. Instead, I wrote that it doesn’t seem wise to me to force people to be pregnant when they don’t want to be, because it could mean that they won’t take care of their prenatal health. And fetuses would be developing in someone who might be very depressed and unwilling to seek medical care. That could then lead to babies being born with medical conditions that might have been prevented if the pregnant person had simply been more “responsible”.

I won’t even go into the huge list of reasons why this mindset isn’t fair to women. Men seem to forget that their health is never affected by pregnancy. It’s just their livelihoods that are potentially affected. What I was really thinking of, though, is that pregnant folks might soon find themselves in a different class of people, with fewer civil rights. This guy on Twitter was insisting that he didn’t think pregnancy should be a punishment, as he was also clearly pointing out that people should be forced to gestate. And, I’ll bet if I pressed him, asking him what he thought should happen to pregnant women who don’t seek appropriate medical care (which, of course, they would have to pay for), he would say the women should go to jail. Sounds pretty punishing to me. Now, granted, he didn’t actually say that during our discussion– which went on for much too long– but I’ll bet money that he would get there. Americans seem to LOVE to see people go to prison.

This isn’t an empty threat. I looked up forced prenatal care yesterday. It has happened. The link leads to one case from 2000, but there are others, and that Washington Post link I provided is about how some extremists would like to make it illegal for pregnant people to cross state lines. That sounds very punitive to me, and it would likely discourage people from seeking medical care. Another unintended consequence is that there will be some women who will stop having sex with people– particularly men– who can get them pregnant. I’ve already seen at least one Reddit thread from a man who is upset that his girlfriend is on a sex strike because of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

In an earlier blog post, I shared Jessica Kent’s very distressing video about her experience giving birth while she was incarcerated in Arkansas. If we don’t do something about these wackos who are trying to criminalize abortion, there will be more women who experience the hell of being pregnant behind bars. It won’t be good for women OR those precious babies. And, things are already getting shitty in Texas. Yesterday, I watched this woman’s heartbreaking video about the horrible trauma she experienced, trying to take care of her miscarriage in Texas last year.

This video is absolutely horrifying. My heart breaks for her. She had a lot of trouble accessing prenatal care, too.
Sharing this again for those who missed it. This could be a reality for many more women if the pro-life zealots get their way.

The other person who engaged me yesterday was an older woman who had many of the same arguments the man did. She was very condescending to me, and kept preaching about personal responsibility. I didn’t tell her that I was SUPER responsible when I was younger. I was a virgin until two weeks after my wedding day, and was 30 years old when I finally had sex for the first time… with a man who’d had a vasectomy. I also didn’t tell her about my background.

But toward the end of our chat, she wrote that she has a four year old granddaughter who was conceived accidentally. Her granddaughter is the light of her life. And you know, that’s really lovely. I’m happy for her. I wrote that I hoped her granddaughter never needed to have an abortion, which is sometimes necessary for health reasons. And I hoped that her granddaughter wouldn’t lose some of her healthcare privacy rights, due to her sex. The woman wrote back that my concerns about healthcare privacy were “ridiculous”. All I can do is shake my head… as Randy Newman sings, “I’m dead, but I don’t know it…” I think that observation would apply to this woman’s brain.

Clever song. I think this could be the state of women’s healthcare privacy and freedom very soon.

But instead of sharing the link to Randy Newman’s song, I wrote that my concerns about privacy are NOT ridiculous, and a lot of us are very concerned about it, and with good reason. Then I bid her a good night, because I was tired of tweeting in circles and felt my time would be more productively spent cleaning the lint out of my belly button or something.

Well… I could go on. I am kind of rueing exploring Twitter, because now I get exposed to some real twits besides Bill’s ex wife. But at least it gives me another source for my blog, right? And since I mentioned Ex… here are a couple of her most recent comments. I could start a blog that focuses on the inanity of Ex’s Twitter feed. For your amusement…

My daughter is 19, a HUGE fan of yours(read your book), along with TMNT; she wants to be a voice actress more that ANYTHING! Rob, how can I encourage her? I can’t afford acting school in NY, though she was accepted! Please, any advice for a mom who just wants to support a dream?!

Omg … my eyes…. My ears… make it stop! It’s like reliving the day I sang “If” by Bread in 1981 at a school talent show with, literally, the sweetest and kindest guy in the world! Except, alas, it was never to be… still love him with all my heart!!

She once sang “The Sweetest Thing” by Juice Newton to Bill. To this day, he can’t abide that song.

So ends today’s rantings. Hope it provides food for thought.

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law, LDS, religion, social welfare

“Get baptized, get help…” The despicable practice of forcing people to submit to religious indoctrination to get welfare assistance…

I was going to write about this topic yesterday, before I got sidetracked by Josh Duggar and the awful revelations that are being discovered at his ongoing trial. Thankfully, I don’t feel compelled to focus on Josh today, so I’m going to tackle another issue I read about a couple of days ago, concerning the state of Utah and its practice of referring needy people to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for welfare assistance.

I first became aware of this issue after I read a thread on the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard. Someone titled a thread “Forced to join the mormon church to get welfare help!!” Since I have master’s degrees in social work and public health, and have witnessed firsthand how politicians like to foist social welfare and public health issues on churches and charities to solve, I knew I would be interested in this topic. So off I went to the Salt Lake Tribune to read.

The article was written by Eli Hager of Pro Publica, “a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.” I’ve got to hand it to Eli Hager. This report was very compelling reading about women who needed help securing housing or food. But the state of Utah has made getting welfare assistance so convoluted and difficult that they were forced to turn to the Mormon church for much needed and life sustaining assistance. According to the article in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Although maintaining a safety net for the poor is the government’s job, welfare in Utah has become so entangled with the state’s dominant religion that the agency in charge of public assistance here counts a percentage of the welfare provided by the LDS Church toward the state’s own welfare spending, according to a memorandum of understanding between the church and the state obtained by ProPublica.

That means the state, which should have an interest in caring for its citizens, is fobbing off a large amount of the responsibility to the state’s dominant religion– The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And that often means that people who need help have to approach religious leaders instead of secular government officials. Often, the poor people who need help wind up being pressured to be baptized into the LDS church.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, popularly known as the Mormons, are well known for sending missionaries all over the world in order to spread their belief system. Utah is heavily populated with members of the LDS church, although ever since the Internet became widely available, a lot of people have decided to leave the religion. Missionaries seem to have the most success in baptizing people who need help of some sort. They aren’t as successful in places were people are well fed, healthy, and basically happy with their lives. But if people need food or shelter or help with their bills, the case for joining the religion becomes more attractive, even if the people in need don’t believe in the doctrine or don’t want to subscribe to a highly demanding faith like Mormonism.

Regular readers of my blog probably know that I’m not a fan of the LDS church. I have never been a member myself, but Bill was a convert for awhile, and his daughter is a devout member. I used to have a pretty negative opinion of the church, but I’ve since softened my stance somewhat. After all, younger daughter was able to depend on church members when she needed to escape her mother’s abuse. Of course it would have been much better if she had been able to contact her father, who would have happily helped her. But she was effectively alienated from him for years, and was too afraid to reach out to him. So, when younger daughter turned 18 and no longer wanted to live under her mother’s rules, she left. And it was members of the LDS church– the same organization Ex used to help alienate Bill from his daughters– that helped her succeed in her bid for “freedom”.

The LDS church does have a powerful, impressive, and rather extensive welfare system for helping its members. Bishops have “storehouses” where they keep food and other supplies. Church members who fall on hard times, particularly if they are tithe payers, can go to their bishop and ask for help. There is money available for temporary help with rent and utility bills. Typically, the member is expected to “pay” back that help somehow, perhaps by doing free work for the church, like cleaning the restrooms or some other “calling”.

According to the article:

The church’s extensive, highly regarded welfare program is centered at a place called Welfare Square, ensconced among warehouses on Salt Lake City’s west side. There, poor people — provided they obtain approval of their grocery list from a lay bishop, who oversees a congregation — can get orders of food for free from the Bishops’ Storehouse, as well as buy low-priced clothes and furniture from a church-owned Deseret Industries thrift store. (Bishops can also authorize temporary cash assistance for rent, car payments and the like; recipients often have to volunteer for the church to obtain the aid.)

Welfare Square was built in 1938 amid the Great Depression, an intentional repudiation by church leaders of government welfare as epitomized by President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. We “take care of our own,” they famously said.

I don’t necessarily begrudge the church leadership for asking people who need help to give back. However, I do think it’s wrong for the church to serve as a de-facto welfare system that serves people who don’t want to be involved in the religion. Joining the LDS church is not a minor thing. It requires a lot of lifestyle commitments and a willingness to give up some privacy. Members in good standing also must tithe ten percent of their income in order to get all of the “benefits” of being a member. They will be visited by church members who will teach them lessons and see if they are maintaining the lifestyle standards imposed by the church, such as abstaining from tobacco and illegal drugs, not drinking coffee, tea, or alcohol, and regularly attending church. And if the person takes out their “endowments”, they will literally be expected to change their underwear.

Moreover, some of the church’s beliefs are, quite simply, hard to swallow. Plus, anyone who researches the church’s history, and reads up about the actions taken by “heroes” such as founder Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, particularly if they happen to be a person of color, may not appreciate the doctrine very much. For more information about that, read up on Lamanites, and “white and delightsome“. From an article from The Atlantic titled “When Mormons Aspired to Be a ‘White and Delightsome’ People”:

Like other religious groups, Mormons have a complicated history around race. Until a few decades ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught that they “shall be a white and a delightsome people,” a phrase taken from the Book of Mormon. Until the 1970s, the LDS Church also restricted black members’ participation in important rituals and prohibited black men from becoming priests, despite evidence that they had participated more fully in the earliest years of the Church.*

Granted, the church has evolved a bit since 1978, when Black men were finally allowed to have “the priesthood”, but I can see why some non-white people would prefer not to be LDS. And even without the complicated racist history of the LDS church, I just don’t think it’s right to try to force people into a religion just so they can have shelter and eat food every day. I don’t think taxpayers who need assistance should be forced to listen to a sales spiel from religion peddlers. Anyone who is a citizen and has ever had a job in which they paid taxes, which would be most Americans, should have the right to dignified and respectful assistance when the need arises. State governments should not be allowed to shift that responsibility to private groups or religious organizations.

Jeez…

According to the Eli Hager’s informative article, “over the past decade, the Utah Legislature has been able to get out of spending at least $75 million on fighting poverty that it otherwise would have had to spend under federal law, a review of budget documents shows.” Meanwhile the church gets new members, some of whom might decide to stick around beyond baptism and contribute tithe money. It’s a win/win for the state and the church, but maybe not so much for the people who are being compelled to join a religion they might not believe in just so they have enough to eat and a roof over their heads. It doesn’t seem like a very “Christlike” policy, in any case.

One of the women profiled in Hager’s article is Black. She has significant health issues, and her daughter had to drop out of school to help her with basic things like getting up, hygiene, and wound care. She clearly needs assistance and isn’t able to work. However, she was not able to get welfare assistance from the state, because her income was too high to qualify. She was explicitly advised to approach LDS church officials for help instead.

According to the article:

The bishop of her local congregation, called a ward, decided that as a precondition of receiving welfare, she would have to read, understand and embrace Latter-day Saint scripture… Church representatives came by her apartment to decide what individual food items she did and did not need while pressuring her to attend Sunday services.

The woman initially cooperated with the church’s demands, but later balked. She realized that while she knew many people had been blessed by Mormon welfare, she just plain didn’t believe in the doctrine. It was important to her to stay true to her own beliefs. And for that, she says she was denied further assistance. What a terrible insult to her dignity and self-determination!

In another case outlined in the article, a woman needed assistance with food and warm clothes. She was raised LDS, but has serious problems with the church’s doctrines. She doesn’t want to apply for help from the state because of the strict lifetime limit on receiving assistance. She thinks it’s better to save the chance to request assistance for when she’s older. When she asked for assistance from the LDS church, she was told by the bishop that she had to marry her child’s father and live with him. He then said he could perform the ceremony right there in his office. The woman didn’t want to marry her child’s father, and didn’t want to be married in an office. So she declined, and she’s still cold due to lack of clothing and adequate shelter. How very Christlike, right?

The LDS church’s welfare system is a great benefit for those who are happy to be church members. But it’s not so great to be someone who has to conform to the demands of a bishop in order to get that assistance, particularly if they aren’t members, and have no desire to be members. The church is allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion; the state isn’t. And the state should be providing basic welfare assistance for its needy citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. My guess is that if the “shoe was on the other foot”, so to speak, and LDS church members were suddenly required to change or denounce their beliefs for financial or food assistance, they would be crying foul.

Hager’s article is pretty long, and details the circumstances of several people who felt like they were forced to explore Mormonism so they could get much needed welfare assistance. I’m not going to go deep into the stories of the people in the article because, at this point, the article isn’t behind a paywall if you haven’t used up your “freebie” articles. Suffice to say that I think this practice is despicable, underhanded, and wrong. It should be outlawed.

And… lest anyone think I am just picking on the Mormons, I will state that when I was studying for my social work master’s degree, I encountered an evangelical charity in Columbia, South Carolina that ran a homeless shelter. In order for people to get help, they had to attend a church service held at the mission.

Naturally, many Republicans felt okay with this practice, since many of them are church going Christians. A lot of them would rather see churches and charities take care of the poor and hate to see their tax dollars going toward helping those who are down on their luck. But churches are not always staffed with people who are trained to assist people trapped in poverty and understand the complex and different reasons why they are impoverished. And some churches are just plain corrupt and toxic, which is plain to see if you’ve been reading my other blog posts this week.

It’s not a crime to be poor, nor is poverty necessarily a sign of moral failing. Poor people don’t need to be made into “church projects” or “do gooding”. Some people are poor due to bad luck or bad circumstances. They don’t need to be “shown another way.” They need what all people need in order to survive. And they shouldn’t be expected to change their beliefs or adopt new beliefs in order to get basic things they need, especially in a very wealthy country like the United States.

I realize that not all bishops are jerks. Some are wise and kind, and don’t try to coerce the disenfranchised into getting dunked into the LDS church to boost their membership rolls. But Utah’s practice of pressuring people to become Mormon, and submit to church rules in order to receive help that should be provided through taxes paid to the state, must end. It’s not fair, and it’s not right, even if many Mormons do believe their church is “the one true church.”

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